Taylor Swift's Evolution and Her Music's Significance in My Life

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

In Taylor Swift's debut album, aptly self titled, you can sense the naivete in the way she's looking at the camera.  A young girl with curls, and a dream in her eyes. But with the dream you see the eagerness to go on into the world, with an apprehension in the look. Its the look of a youth stepping into the world. Of course, with the lyrics of the album, specially the most famous song "Teardrops on my Guitar" you see this longing of belonging. To me, the verse "The kind of flawless I wish I could be" is the strongest verse offering insight into the kind of mindset a young person has. As a teenage boy, I discovered her music as I was left stranded in a boarding school with bullies around me and a notebook and a pen to rely on. If there is one song that magnifies the emotion of being a new youth its "A Place in This World." We all want to belong, not knowing what we want and how to go about wanting what we don't know. This crippling desire to explode with emotions, and demanding this explosion to lead us in life is what I felt back then, back when Taylor came into my life. She encouraged me to feel confused, but not feel ashamed about it.

When I think about it, Taylor's music has always been about not being ashamed of honesty. With Fearless, her lyrics became more refined, as one's emotions go with age. The innocence is lost to some extent with a crippling maturity that holds one back. But Taylor's expression makes use of this fear, so the title "Fearless" makes perfect sense. Somewhere into the teenage years, the fear turns into fearlessness. Becoming a rebel is what comes to mind. That's just what I became. But I think there's also this kindness to this rebellion that was kept alive - in me and in Taylor's Music. The song "Fifteen" does look back at high school with a romantic notion, but there's this emphasis on friendships that encapsulates reality. I hadn't made friends back in the debut days, and by the Fearless days, my fearlessness came from knowing that I was who I was, a weirdo and I had friends. A freak like me had friends who would be by my side. The ending of the album with "Change" is a reminder that the road to being one's own self will be filled with downs, more downs than ups. Hope. I needed hope really bad. Its not easy being a person like me, who's a walking, talking symbol of unorthodox living. But Taylor's music gave me hope. That these walls will fall down. And I kept hoping. Fearlessly.

After Fearless and the expansion of the world, I think I learned to live life and think outside of myself. I think that in teenage, one's just so centered on this angry ball of selfishness inside one's head that leads to sense of helpless misery. With Speak Now, I saw Taylor talk about people outside of that fireball. The fire was settling down. "Never Grow Up" is an ode to family, of course in Fearless, we had The Best Day, but with Never Grow Up, it's the sense of sad helplessness of passing of time that leaves one melancholic and craving for simpler times. "Innocent" though, reminds us that yes, we will curl into ourselves and give up. This song, makes me cry. I dreamed a lot as a young boy, but somehow, I didn't know how to work my self into achieving what I wanted. I was still stuck in boarding school. At nights, living my sadness and crying. I used to bathe at nights and just stand in the shower, not feeling anything. I missed home, I missed myself, I didn't know back then what the self was but I knew I had to look for it. And "Innocent" reminded me that I have time to pick myself and delve into this life. Last year of high school and I was scared. I was scared of not living my dreams, of not being able to be a writer, of not being good enough. I think inherently, that's what we're all afraid of. Taylor's music, helped me keep going, knowing it's never too late to get my balance back.

When "Red" came out, I was interning at this art place.As I was going through the city in the fall in public transport vans and walking all the way up to the art center, I was listening to "The State of Grace" and I felt like I really had made it. At 18, I was living the dream, interning at the place I had dreamed off for two years, looking at its pictures only in magazines. I was in my "State of Grace" and i was learning to live. My first pool party, my first ball, my first Halloween party, my first concert, my first fettuccine Alfredo; I was having a lot of firsts. But there was this yearning for simplicity in my heart. It was too loud and too happening of a lifestyle for me. I don't think I was complaining. I wanted it. But there was this unsettling restlessness that got its articulation through the song "The Lucky One" that showed me that the life I had in the suburbs wasn't actually bad. I was beginning to look at the life I had lived. Introspection was a budding habit then, and it irritated me how badly I wanted to live the life I was already living at home. They kept telling me I was lucky, and all I did was feel confused. But I knew everything would be alright, Taylor always has a song that perpetuates the notion that it will be ok. And I believed her. After all, some of my dreams had started coming true already.

By the time "1989" had released, I had gone through a lot in life. I had failed two of my classes at dental school and found out I would have to repeat a whole year of my studies. I was reading more, self exploring more and letting go of a lot of beliefs I had about myself and life. So when "Shake it Off" came out, and Taylor decided to go full pop with 1989, my life was taking some major turns too. I needed to get serious about my studies but at the same time let go of the stigma that revolves around failure. But what I needed to shake off the most was myself, my dreams and my wishes. I think there comes a point in life when past desires keep you from moving into the future, moving into life, and stop you from fully living. So I learned to shake that off. I learned to be accepting of my own flaws, I learned that really, when I was drowning, that's when I was finally clean. So I moved on, I took my weaknesses and learned to let go of just more than my own self. I started letting go of people in life who added nothing but negativity. Once friends, now Bad Blood. I was starting to liberate my self of the burdens I inflicted on it. I was starting my evolution, and I was hoping to get out of the woods.

At this point of the journey, I am learning to be selfish, learning to put myself first, and learning that one can only be too kind and understanding before one completely loses respect. If Taylor had been having image issues for being a bitch, I was learning to be one. I would credit Ayn Rand for it, but I think that the timing of Taylor's album Reputation is in sync with the sentiments in my life right now. From being the bullied kid to being the boy who ended things with his friends because I was tired of being the one to take shit as they kept adding weight to my life with their burdens. My time, my words and my mind was ready to be reciprocated and if I wasn't getting the emotional energy I was giving into my relationships. I think "Look What You Made Me Do" was the perfect song to help me navigate the emotional lethargy that comes with toxic relationships. Throughout the album though, one can sense the process of letting go and not giving a fuck. That's what I'm going through right now and I like how freeing it is emotionally. But in a way I am learning to be kinder without expectations. I think it was never about selfishness. It was about selflessness in a selfish way. Learning to take care of myself, that letting the guards down in its own might be a defense move.

So here I am, holding my bitch flag high with a warning that you will get treated the way you will treat me, that I am learning to love myself in a forgiving way, I am learning to take my time with life, and going forth giving my all, and not expecting much because only I am responsible for myself and what I let happen to my life.

And Taylor swift has been here all along.

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